HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV8439
Name:Prestonbury Castle Hillfort Camp, Drewsteignton

Summary

Prestonbury Castle hillfort camp above Fingle Bridge lies on the north side of the river Teign and is impressively sited directly opposite Cranbrook. The main area of the summit enclosure covers 1.4 hectares, with two widely spaced ramparts lower down the hill.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 747 901
Map Sheet:SX79SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDrewsteignton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishDREWSTEIGNTON

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument 1003861: Prestonbury Castle (hillfort)
  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of hut circle, possible ring cairn and field system on Prestonbury Common above the River Teign
  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of hut circle, possible ring cairn and field system on Prestonbury Common above the River Teign

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX79SW5
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 445780
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX79SW/2
  • Old SAM County Ref: 151
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MULTIVALLATE HILLFORT (Constructed, Iron Age - 700 BC to 42 AD (Between))

Full description

Woollcombe, H., 1839-1850, Woollcombe Manuscript (Un-published). SDV16214.

Visited in 1836 and on 19th August 1840. Enclosure of circa 25 acres, two ramparts on west side. Barrow on east side. Plan in manuscript.

Wilkinson, J. G., 1862, On British Remains on Dartmoor, 125-6, Plate (Article in Serial). SDV277122.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Pretonbury Castle ( Camp) (Remains of)' shown on 19th century map.

Rowe, S., 1896, A Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor, 66 (Monograph). SDV249697.

Baring Gould, S., 1900, A Book of Dartmoor, 98 (Monograph). SDV277387.

Page, W., 1906, Victoria County History, 595, Plan (Monograph). SDV362501.

Prestonbury Castle is situated three miles north-west of Moretonhampstead high above the north bank of the R Teign. The bank of the inner enclosure measures 418 feet by 410 feet and is 7 1/2 feet high with entrances to the east and west. The middle enclosure bank has a simple entrance on its east side. The outer bank, only partially extant, is strengthened by a rock-cut ditch 20 feet broad. This bank divides into two at the crest of the southern slope. The bank has an inturned entrance facing northeast.

Pilkington-Rogers, C. W, 1932, The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities, 394, Map (Article in Serial). SDV149513.

Fox, A., 1952 - 1953, Hill-Slope Forts and Related Earthworks in South-West England and South Wales, 10 (Article in Serial). SDV343545.

Cambridge University Collection, 1953, CUC/MH, 23-4, 26-7 (Aerial Photograph). SDV24830.

Photograph taken on 5th July 1953.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SX79SW5, SX79SW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV224741.

Visited on 18th April 1953. Towering above Fingle Bridge to the east, on the end of a ridge, is Prestonbury Castle, one of the best of the iron age hillforts that ring the edge of Dartmoor. Position is a defensive one, though the lack of an outer ditch to each rampart is an unusual feature. The area is turf and bracken covered and no evidence of internal habitation was to be seen. Wilkinson notes that the entrances through the three lines of defence are set obliquely to each other to baffle attack. The exterior areas were not only defensive in purpose, but also used for corralling stock.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 390 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Cambridge University, 1955, CUC/QE, 87-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV224837.

Photograph taken on 26th June 1955.

Forde-Johnston, J., 1962, Prestonbury Castle Hillfort, 78 (Article in Serial). SDV224746.

Cambridge University, 1966, CUC/ANM, 21-2, in HER (Aerial Photograph). SDV62341.

Photograph taken on 28th April 1966.

National Monuments Record, 1973, NMR SX7490 (Aerial Photograph). SDV224740.

Photograph taken on 17th October 1973.

Forde-Johnston, J., 1976, Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales: a survey of the surface evidence, 188, 221, 225 (Monograph). SDV364383.

Prestonbury consists of three enclosures with possible club ended ramparts. The inner enclosure on a hilltop covers 1.4ha., To the east and north-east this is flanked by a lunate annexe taking in a further 8.0ha. Both enclosures have simple entrance gaps. The outermost is a single curving crossbank with an inturned entrance holding a further 4.8ha.

Pearce, S. M., 1979, The Distribution and Production of Bronze Age Metalwork, 144 (Article in Serial). SDV322230.

Cambridge University, 1980, CUC/CMC, 81 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343849.

Photograph taken on 4th June 1980.

Cambridge University, 1980, CUC/CMD, 4-7 (Aerial Photograph). SDV135877.

Photograph taken on 4th June 1980. Photograph 7 in HER.

National Monuments Record, 1980, NMR SF1746, 312 (Aerial Photograph). SDV294996.

Photograph taken on 21st April 1980.

Quinnell, H., 1982, Prestonbury Castle (Report - Survey). SDV1356.

Earthworks resurveyed. Copy of drawing at 1:1250 in HER.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1982, SX79SW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV223102.

(04/05/1983) Prestonbury Castle is situated at 240m. O.D. in an end of ridge position whereby the precipitous slops of the Teign gorge form a natural defence to the south and west.
The earthworks together enclose an area of 6.4ha., all permanent pasture, sloping gradually to the north and east as a series of wide-spread terraces.
The primary enclosure of 1.7ha., encompasses the hilltop in oval form. It has a token bank following the lip off the gorge and elsewhere the defence consists of a slight bank averaging 1.0m. high, derived from scrape-up of the interior, augmented externally by scarping the hillside to form a steep slope 2.0m. to 3.0m. high. There is no outer ditch. The only entrance, simple, and with slightly clubbed ends, is on the east side.
The eastern half of the primary enclosure is enveloped by an outwork of approximately 1.0ha. in extent. From a similar entrance on the east, flanked by vestigial ditches, and with an interspace of 60m. the rampart sweeps back to join the inner one on the south side where both coincide with the lip of the valley. On the north side however it ceases at a point where a terrace way has been constructed between the rampart and a natural scarp, which it is evident has been utilized and adapted as a basis for the rampart. The natural feature continues westward as a broadening slope 25m to 30m. wide and 3.0m. high until it reaches the edge of the gorge. As on the south it seems the rampart was intended to meet the inner enclosure where 60m. of a probable feeble "setting-out" platform exists at the base of the scarp. An isolated pit and pile of upcast also acknowledges the intention.
The third rampart is spaced at a distance of 80m. to 150m. from the intermediate one and encloses 3.7ha. The northern part also utilizes a natural scarp which extends westwards for a further 150m. before merging into the hillside.
Apart from scarping, traces of a shallow intermittent ditch, and a minimal bank there is no evidence of any continuous or real attempt at fortification. On the north-east and east, the most vulnerable, much of the earthwork has been degraded by quarrying and former agricultural activity but southwards from the well formed causewayed and inturned entrance the rampart is of impressive proportions, up to 2.0m. high internally and 3.5m. high externally. Again a natural scarp may have been used since the ditch, partly rock cut, is never more than 1.0m. deep and often much less. From the southeast corner the outer work extends onto the relatively steep slope of the valley as a terrace and outer scarp ceasing where the slope becomes precipitous. No branching, as portrayed in the V.C.H. and Wilkinson's plans, can be seen, and any continuation would seem superfluous.
The inner circuit of Prestonbury presents a reasonably finished appearance, but the same cannot be said for the outworks. It is uncertain whether the incompletion is related to single or multiple phase construction, but there is no doubt that interruption is a consistent feature within all the five forts along the higher reaches of the rivers Teign and Bovey.
Cranbrook has close space ramparts (SX 7389): the others, Wooston (SX 7689), Hunter's Tor (SX 7682) and Natterdon (SX 7086), like Prestonbury, fall into the category of wide spaced multiple rampart forts, epitomised by that at Milber Down.
Surveyed at 1:2500 on M.S.D., and at 1:1250 with profiles.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Film 593, 20-21 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356705.

Photograph taken on 2nd December 1983.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/CA, 4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV302442.

Photograph taken on 13th July 1984.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/DI, 11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV345651.

Photograph taken on 26th July 1984.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EO, 7-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV307278.

Photograph taken on 17th March 1985

The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Unit, 1985, The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV340940.

Ramparts of Prestonbury Castle hillfort visible on slopes east of Drewston Common.

Griffith, F. M., 1990, DAP/SD, 8-10 (Aerial Photograph). SDV38172.

Photograph taken on 27th June 1990.

Taylor, D., 1993, Prestonbury Castle (Worksheet). SDV1142.

Visited on 31st August 1993. Area under rough pasture at present. Inner enclosure circa 170 metres by circa 125 metres; inner rampart 0.5-1.0 metres high on inside, 2-2.5 metres on outside, bank largely coursed with bracken. Middle rampart is low on uphill side (less than 1 metres) and circa 2 metres high on outside; near entrance this is more pronounced. Outer rampart circa 120 metres further out on east side, with an inturned entrance to north-east. For part of length, on east side, it is up to 10 metres broad and appears to have a bank on inner and outer edges, with slight depression between. No visible remains of a barrow, ring cairn or any other structures.

Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon (DNPA Copy), 47 (Monograph). SDV360402.

Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon (DNPA Copy), 47-8 (Monograph). SDV360402.

Cartographic Engineering, 2006, Dartmoor 2006 1:1250 Aerial Photography (digital) (Aerial Photograph). SDV345590.

Ramparts visible on aerial photograph.

Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M., 2011, In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts (Article in Serial). SDV361500.

Griffith, F.M. + Quinnell, H. + Wilkes, E, 2013, Hillforts of Devon, 8 of 42, Figs 5a-b (Monograph). SDV352457.

Prestonbury lies on the north side of the river Teign and is impressively sited directly opposite Cranbrook. The main area of the summit enclosure covers 1.4 hectares, with two widely spaced ramparts lower down the hill. Not excavated and no detailed study carried out but Lady Fox (1961, 49) described site as an unusual site; thoroughly defensively sited multiple enclosure fort. Description of the earthworks and plans included. Debateable whether this is a multi-phase site or a possible incomplete single-phase site.

Ralston, I. + Lock, G., 2017, Atlas of Hillforts (Website). SDV360888.

Ordnance Survey, 2021, MasterMap 2021 (Cartographic). SDV364015.

'Prestonbury Castle Camp' shown on modern mapping.

Historic England, 2021, National Heritage List for England, 1003861 (National Heritage List for England). SDV364016.

This monument includes a small multivallate hillfort situated on a prominent ridge known as Prestonbury Common overlooking the valleys of the River Teign and a tributary to it. The hillfort survives as an oval enclosure with a second narrow elliptical enclosure to the east and a third far wider enclosed area to the north and east. The inner enclosure measures 150 metres long by 93 metres wide and occupies the summit of the ridge with steep natural slopes to the south and west. It is defined by a rampart. There is a slightly inturned entrance on the eastern side. The middle enclosure, which is triangular in shape measures up to 100 metres long by 60 metres wide internally. It is defined by a rampart and partially buried outer ditch and has a simple gap entrance slightly to the north of east. The outer enclosure divides the summit of Prestonbury Common from the rest of the ridge with a curving strongly built rampart with outer ditch and encloses an area measuring up to 280 metres long by 150 metres wide. An inturned entrance lies to the north-east.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1142Worksheet: Taylor, D.. 1993. Prestonbury Castle.
SDV1356Report - Survey: Quinnell, H.. 1982. Prestonbury Castle.
SDV135877Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1980. CUC/CMD. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 4-7.
SDV149513Article in Serial: Pilkington-Rogers, C. W. 1932. The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. A5 Hardback. 394, Map.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 390.
SDV223102Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1982. SX79SW5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Unknown.
SDV224740Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1973. NMR SX7490.
SDV224741Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SX79SW5. OSAD Card. Card Index. SX79SW5.
SDV224746Article in Serial: Forde-Johnston, J.. 1962. Prestonbury Castle Hillfort. Archaeological Journal. 119. 78.
SDV224837Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1955. CUC/QE. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 87-8.
SDV24830Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection. 1953. CUC/MH. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 23-4, 26-7.
SDV249697Monograph: Rowe, S.. 1896. A Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor. Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor. Unknown. 66.
SDV277122Article in Serial: Wilkinson, J. G.. 1862. On British Remains on Dartmoor. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 18. Unknown. 125-6, Plate.
SDV277387Monograph: Baring Gould, S.. 1900. A Book of Dartmoor. A Book of Dartmoor. Unknown. 98.
SDV294996Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1980. NMR SF1746. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 312.
SDV302442Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/CA. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4.
SDV307278Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EO. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7-8.
SDV322230Article in Serial: Pearce, S. M.. 1979. The Distribution and Production of Bronze Age Metalwork. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 37. 144.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV340940Interpretation: The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Unit. 1985. The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project. The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project. Map (Paper).
SDV343545Article in Serial: Fox, A.. 1952 - 1953. Hill-Slope Forts and Related Earthworks in South-West England and South Wales. Archaeological Journal. 109. Unknown. 10.
SDV343849Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1980. CUC/CMC. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 81.
SDV345590Aerial Photograph: Cartographic Engineering. 2006. Dartmoor 2006 1:1250 Aerial Photography (digital). Digital.
SDV345651Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/DI. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 11.
SDV352457Monograph: Griffith, F.M. + Quinnell, H. + Wilkes, E. 2013. Hillforts of Devon. Hillforts of Devon. A4 Stapled + Digital. 8 of 42, Figs 5a-b.
SDV356705Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1983. Film 593. Devon Conservation Section. Unknown. 20-21.
SDV360402Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon (DNPA Copy). Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Paperback Volume. 47-8.
SDV360888Website: Ralston, I. + Lock, G.. 2017. Atlas of Hillforts. https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk/. Website.
SDV361500Article in Serial: Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M.. 2011. In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts. British Archaeological Reports. 548. Paperback Volume.
SDV362501Monograph: Page, W.. 1906. Victoria County History. Victoria County History. Devon. Hardback Volume. 595, Plan.
SDV364015Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2021. MasterMap 2021. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV364016National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2021. National Heritage List for England. Digital. 1003861.
SDV38172Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1990. DAP/SD. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 8-10.
SDV62341Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1966. CUC/ANM. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 21-2, in HER.

Associated Monuments

MDV26751Parent of: Earthwork bank at Prestonbury Castle Hillfort, Drewsteignton (Monument)
MDV26750Parent of: Prestonbury Castle Hillfort inner ramparts, Drewsteignton (Monument)
MDV30504Related to: Circular Crop Mark within Prestonbury Castle (Monument)
MDV8221Related to: Cranbrook Castle univallate hillfort . Moretonhampstead (Monument)
MDV26743Related to: Hut circle north of Prestonbury Castle, Drewsteignton (Monument)
MDV26740Related to: Lost field boundaries south and east of Preston, Drewsteignton (Monument)
MDV119672Related to: Preston Farm, Drewsteignton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Jun 11 2021 10:12AM